The SOYL Experience (so far)

This is the second week of SOYL and I’ve been having an excellent time! Throughout the program so far, I’ve made new friends and also got to learn more about gardening and farming. I hope further in the program I’ll be able to enhance friendships and create new ones that will hopefully continue once the summer is over. It’s going by so quick! One of my favourite parts of SOYL right now would probably be the harvesting days at the Fresh Roots farms at David Thompson & at Van Tech. So far I’ve been able to harvest some Swiss chard, some arugula flowers, and white icicle radishes. At David Thompson, I find their garden exceptionally beautiful. The Swiss chard, patty pan squash, the chocolate mint make me extremely happy because it’s so awesome to see an urban farm at a school in action and of course seeing the delicious fresh produce that’s organic as well!

My commute to David Thompson is around 40 minutes and I find myself actually enjoying it. I find waking up early and taking the bus puts me in a better mood and makes me excited for the day. As for Van Tech, I do love the space there. Since I’m part of the garden and sustainability club at Van Tech, I feel accomplished when SOYL helps out with the VT Garden Club’s beds because they’re so much better with our help! We’ve been clearing out the intense amount of weeds lately in our bush bean beds and it already looks incredibly better than before SOYL had started! I can’t wait to see what we can do to improve the garden out there this summer. I’m sure members of the club will be happy to see their garden when school starts back in September. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure that they know that the SOYL crew helped out with it. 😉

A somewhat gloomy day but that doesn't mean harvesting wasn't fun!

A somewhat gloomy day but that doesn’t mean harvesting wasn’t fun! Group B harvesting swiss chard.

A challenge I find myself being caught in would be my sleep schedule. I become motivated when I am refreshed and about to start the day but I find myself not getting the right amount of sleep. I would say that I’m both a light sleeper and will wake up to any little noise, but I can become a deep sleeper when I’ve had a long day. The problem of my sleep schedule would be that after a long, semi exhausting day at the garden & farms, I always take a nap right after because I really can’t help myself! I know now that all I have to do is find something to do during that specific time so I can save it for a nice deep sleep that will for sure benefit me in the morning. I will definitely try to work on that in the following week.

I remember on one of the mornings I woke up extremely close to 9:00 and was really tired to the point of my eyes wanting to shut. Though when I got there to the farm, I felt more energized and ready to take on the long day. I think it was because of the atmosphere and how everyone was happy and excited but also seeing the positive attitude from the Fresh Roots workers and interns. I also really enjoy having beds and beds of fresh produce surrounding me because it feels organic. (haha get it?) I personally think mornings are the best times to do farm work. There’s something about being surrounded by farm land and blossoming fresh produce that makes you feel so much better! Another activity I feed off of, literally, is weeding! I find weeding a good activity to start off the day because it can be quite relaxing, unless you’re doing it for a heapless amount of time. I think weeding brings people together since it’s a good time to chat to fellow peers about life and such while of course clearing out the unwanted plants. I learned that some weeds are edible like purslane and to me it tastes like a slimier spinach but to each their own. What does purslane taste like to you?

Besides that, I’ve had a great time helping out with community eats. My crew (B) made a delicious and filling meal last week and I enjoyed it very much. We had made a stir fry, using the vegetable of the week, KOHLRABI! That stuff is honestly delicious in a stir fry with quinoa and fluffy brown rice. Community Eats is a fun way to connect with all the other FreshRoots Crew because we get to talk and share stories about the day or generally everything. One of my favourite things about community eats is probably guessing what they’re making that day. I have guessed one dish right but the rest not so close. I always guess what food they’re making on community eats days according to a) what the veggie of the week was and b) I find secret loopholes from some other fresh Roots crew who either have the scoop on what they’re making or saw them carry a certain ingredient. Shoutout to you who have given me hints! 😉

To conclude this blog post, I would like to say that SOYL has genuinely been the highlight of my summer. First because it’s basically taken over my summer but also because I haven’t had this much fun in the garden in awhile! I’ve met great people and I really hope we stay in touch afterwards. I’ve been able to take care of the school garden (at Van Tech) and I’ve also been able to see the process behind growing local and organic food on an urban farm. All the Fresh Roots crew have been so excited and it really makes you have a stronger momentum and a genuinely splendid, beautiful day. Here’s to all the SOYL days to come!

Who needs gloves? You have to touch soil to be in SOYL!

Cheers,

Julie To

Coolrabi

SOYL  has been a really fun experience thus far ( re: this is only my THIRD DAY doing SOYL ), and I’m so happy I took this great opportunity. There’s been a lot of gardening–weeding–and cooking, sharing stories and having laughs. It’s feeling really tight-knit already and the first day, I barely knew any names at all. I’ve been feeling very connected to my crew already though I’ve only know all of them for three days.

My crew and I were the first to do Community Eats, and it was so much fun. I love cooking so it was a very fun time for me. We spent all of the morning preparing lunch, which were tacos! Who doesn’t love tacos? Especially with the excellent BBQ jam we received generously from a local chef who came to cook with us.  The entire meal was vegan/vegetarian which I really appreciated because am a vegetarian.

At first, I was slightly anxious of the meal, because I wasn’t sure if it was vegetarian, or if it would be conscious of some dietary needs or concerns ( not only for me but other people as well ). But I was pleased to discover that not only will every meal SOYL will make with Community Eats is vegan/vegetarian but also income-conscious or barrier-conscious. Not only that, but the tacos were filled with veggies for good health. It was so delicious too! I’ve had some not-so-great experiences with doing a cooking program that would try to implement vegetarian or vegan dishes but it not turning out well because it would try to mimic dishes that usually used animal products or meat. Also, we had a vegetable of the week ( how awesome is that? ), which was kohlrabi.

Rosalind commented that it looked like an alien head.

 

As for the farming part of the program, I feel like I’ve really learned a lot there past couple of days. It’s been a bit of labor but also so much learning through that labor. Types of weeds, how to use gardening tools, some history input here and there about the Fresh Roots program, when to pick the leafs off a kale plant. It’s all been a very enriched education. Like the enriched so(y)l in the urban farms. 

SOYL feels so different from summer formal education, like summer school. I dread the boring, I’m-half-asleep, this-classroom-is-so-hot classes you take in summer school! Granted, maybe this isn’t everyone, but it certainly is for me! I almost make it a point not to take summer school when I don’t need to. It just feels like a waste of the summer, where I could be enjoying the outside, soaking in the couple of weeks when Vancouver has sun. SOYL is really educational and enjoyable at the same time, plus we’re outside almost all day. Getting the fresh air, the sun, and bonding with people that share a lot of the same interests. Another plus, there’s no homework and it’s very engaging. You’ll never find a moment when you aren’t doing something.

I really look forward to the coming weeks of this program.

SOYL Crew Member – Rebecca 

post

New Volunteer Postings – Support SOYL Youth this Summer

Fresh Roots and UBC Faculty of Education’s Intergenerational Landed Learning program have been excitedly collaborating and planning to produce our most exciting year of SOYL youth programming yet!

The SOYL summer employment and leadership program empowers secondary students to cultivate and steward food gardens on school grounds for learning, community building and growing Good Food for All. Through the program, youth develop skills in growing, cooking and selling food, as well as a greater connection to themselves, their community, and the Vancouver food system. They also receive a stipend, community service hours and work experience credit for their contributions. See our SOYL page for more details.

SOYL includes weekly Community Eats lunches, and we have some special volunteer needs to help make this program a reality.

  1. Volunteer Chefs (4 positions) – applications are due June 12th
  2. Delivery for Community Eats Volunteer (1 position) – applications are due June 26th

Click on the above links for more details, and contact us at volunteer@freshroots.ca if you have any further questions.

Creating a New Path

Today, we started the day off at Churchill by weeding some small plants from the garden beds. A small little carrot seed, a demonstration carrot seed (For the kids workshop) has sprouted with our cucumbers! Who would have thought that the little girl would come out…

After, we turned on the irrigation to water the plants and continued on with market planning and doing some blogging afterwards.

After lunch, we visited an urban garden near Langara. The garden was amazingly beautiful! Seeing their tomato trellis compared to ours made ours look way smaller. We got a tour around the garden and were told that seniors often come and visit the garden. But lately, only a few have shown up. To grant them better access, we decided to clear out the path that leads into and through the garden…by weeding! We were assigned into different sectors of the path and we clawed and raked out weeds that may cause harm to the seniors in wheelchairs. Even though it was particularly hot that day, we still pulled through! (Like the buff team we are).

Once we were done, we head back to Churchill and were dismissed from there.

Protective Sign Making and Creative Cake Baking

Started off the day weeding the garden, then transitioned into a great warm up game by Salma and Alejandra. During lunch, we were presented with the unusual incorporation of cauliflower in a banana cake baked by Beatrice although it was surprisingly delicious. And finally, we ended off the day by making don’t steal signs for the gardens and doing a bit of watering. (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ

Community Day Week 4

Week 4 was a blast!

In the morning, as our warm up we played two truths and one lie.It was amazing how some lies were hard to guess because they seemed so real.Later on we visited the Fresh Direct warehouse , there was so much produce.We saw mushrooms, ginger, yam ,tomatoes ( hey why did the tomatoes blush when it saw the salad? Because it saw the salad dressing!!:>) ,etc.After the tour of the warehouse, we had a trivia game.If you get a question correct, you get a prize but at the end everyone got a prize because it was a happy day!

w4freshdirectgroupuniform

In the afternoon , we explored the cottonwood community garden. It seemed small from the outside view but from the inside , it was like a totally different world.There were so many different coloured flowers, big trees , small trees and also a full garden to the native plants. we also ate mole berries but they were hard to reach so Salma reached for the berries so thank you dear Salma. we saw the kiwi vines , with just a lonely kiwi hanging. we saw A BANANA TREE!! but no bananas growing😦.We had lunch under a tree , it was shady and cool. WE HAD SO MUCH PUN!!!!!!

w4freshdirectsalmasim

At the end , we visited the farmer’s market it was their 20th anniversary! CONGRATULATIONS!!!There was a lot of fresh organic produce that the farmers grew and harvested themselves .People were selling baked goods , honey, different types of home-made cheese and I scream for Ice cream! They even had free coffee and mini donuts , they were amazing!

Thank you to the fresh direct for showing us around their warehouse and also thank you to Jill for giving us a tour around the garden. Also thanks to Daniel for giving us more information about the farmer’s market!

Gardening In The Rain!

The Day started off dreary and damp, with a game of Handshake murderer to get us moving and laughing. It was especially funny when everyone died right after I shook their hand, even though I was NOT the murderer. Whatever, it was fun.

After the fun and games, it was time to get to work. In the garden. In the rain. It wasn’t terrible, but it was definitely cold, and we all wanted to be done as quickly as possible. Luckily, there wasn’t much to do, just some weeding and maintenance, so we were out of the rain in no time.

After gardening, we headed inside to start blogging. It was a lot of fun, and it was better than being out in the rain.

Lunch came next, and then we started our leadership workshop. A game we started out with had someone blindfolded of a circle, with everyone trying to grab a pair of keys in between the blindfolded persons legs. Then we worked on listening skills, and had an activity where we had to pretend to be bad listeners. It was really hard to pretend to not be listening, and it didn’t feel nice to be distracting and rude.

We ended of the day with a rousing game of Ninja, where the objective is to hit other peoples’ hands, while protecting your own. After some creative positions, and bending into some interesting shapes, then game was over, and thus ended the day.

Just Like Your Great-Grandma Used to Make

On our third community day everyone met up at Van Tech and leaned about food processing which meant lots of cooking, food and most importantly eating! Milling grain is something that most in this generation never think about but we got to try it out first hand turning whole grains into flour we used to make our bread.

We broke into groups to make the most scrumptious bread creations possible which included a sweet version of an “everything bagel” roll, a fig jam twist, oat bread, a cheesy empanada and of course the classic cinnamon roll. Secondly, everyone got a chance to learn the process of canning and just how labor intensive ,but important, it was for those who lived before refrigeration. Jars and jars of a no sugar added strawberry jam were created after numerous bowls of strawberries were cut and mashed. Finally, our last creation of the day was pickled beans. There were three huge boxes of beans to chop up and it seemed like an insurmountable task, but everyone pulled through to get through two boxes to be pickled. In addition to the pickling liquid, dill, garlic and even a few spicy peppers were added to pack a powerful punch of flavor. Different veggie of the week creations were also sampled which included cooked beets, turnips and a very vibrant beet and banana smoothie.This weeks veggie of the week were the same beans that we canned and even though everyone took home bulging bags of beans there were still many left. At the end of the day we all got together to taste our lovely creations which got gobbled up in minuted they were so good! On the whole it was a very delicious day filled with canning, pickling and bread making on our third community day which left both our interests and stomachs satisfied.

Intense Weeding

Danica and her beets #don’t drop the beet

Danica and her beets #don’t drop the beet

We started the day off in the Fresh Roots Garden of David Thompson.

We did some weeding in the carrot club garden by using shovels and forks. The weeds were difficult to pull out and there were clumps of soil at the bottom but in the end we managed to pull most of them out.

After, we transplanted ground cherries. We watered them immediately to restore their nutrients.

We had a lunch break shortly after; during this time, two members of the group brought veggie of the week (which were beets) and got their pictures taken.

After we finished lunch, we planned for the kids workshop and everyone took some basil leaves and brought it home.